The issue: Should our PUD indebt its customers with a new loan of $30 to ? million, to be paid off by extra charges to our light bills for the next 20 years, to buy out areas in North County, served by Grays Harbor PUD, which will not benefit either North County or Pacific County PUD’s system to any extent?
Pacific County PUD manager Doug Miller is going all out to sell this thing and is backed by Commissioners Thompson and Hatfield. Of questions asked at the Grayland meeting Miller’s answers were deceptive at best, incomplete in most, and actual fabrication in some.
In an obvious quest for their support, Miller promised to build Tokeland a complete new underground system. What he didn’t say was who was paying for this or if this was already figured in the millions he plans to borrow already. To date his cost estimates, lacking real data, are his own estimates. Public discussion has shown that the buyout improves nothing, it can never begin to pay for itself, has limited support from Tokeland/Grayland, and it jacks everybody’s light bill up for years to come. So why is Miller so desperate to do this? Almost unbelievably to cover over $10 million foul up he and engineer Jason Dunsmore made several years ago.
In 2000-2003, Miller and Dunsmore, with very little planning or basic research imperative to engineering or completing the project, began an under bay hook up from Raymond to the Peninsula borrowing $10 million to do it. They built 10 miles of expensive high voltage line and an unneeded substation, standing for 10 years in full view, as a line to nowhere. Due to lack of basic engineering processes originally, the under bay intertie will never be built. Their real plan now is to cover over their mistake.
The original Raymond to Peninsula intertie was the “bait”. Now the unnecessary Grayland buyout is the “switch”. Miller and company is desperate to connect to the Baleville end, of their line to nowhere – to something. A $30 million line from the Baleville to Tokeland (the switch) would cover their original foul up nicely, provided ratepayers ignore the original reason for building it. The substation and matching “line to nowhere” on the Oysterville end without the undersea cable intertie also has no purpose, is a liability, and a complete waste of money. It’s not unusual for politicians to bond with managers. It’s very unusual to see it go this far. Both Commissioners Thompson and Hatfield have, over the past months, ignored serious charges backed with evidence against their managers.
We’ve just finished paying off the last $10 million they wasted through increased light bills. The Commission plans to cover for them again at triple the cost this time. Allowing Thompson and Hatfield to indebt us with an additional $20 to $30 million to cover up past mismanagement cannot go unchallenged. At very least the impacted customer/owners deserve a vote. This last public meeting can’t be all there is. If a public voting process is denied, both Thompson and Hatfield should resign.